Thursday, March 31, 2005

I have some news today. First, I want to apologize to any of my friends who are seeing this here for the first time. With R.'s recovery and the issues around my aunt's estate, plus this, I simply haven't had a chance to talk to everyone I would have liked to.

I went to see my doctor for my annual checkup just before our trip to Florida in December. I was generally healthy, but he noticed that I had a goitre, or an enlarged thyroid. He wanted me to have an ultrasound to have it checked out.

When I got back from Florida, I scheduled the ultrasound for the end of January. I went in and had the test. The doctor called me a few days later and told me that there were some nodules on my thyroid and that he wanted to send me to a specialist to have them checked out. He told me that they could be nothing to worry about or, in a worst case scenario, I could have thyroid cancer. He told me that if it was cancer, that it was very curable. He actually said that if I was going to get cancer that this was the one to get because thyroid cancer is very "well behaved".

I made an appointment with the specialist (which took another month) and didn't give it too much thought, aside from doing some research on the Web. According to what I had read, only a small percentage of these cases end up being cancer and I hadn't had any symptoms.

The appointment with the specialist finally came and she took a look with the ultrasound machine there, in addition to reviewing the previous exam. She decided to do a biopsy, which entailed sticking needles into my neck (a truly fun experience, I can tell you.) She also wanted to do some thyroid levels, so I left some blood behind and went home.

Another week passed, and I heard back from the specialist. The biopsy came back as a malignant tumor. I would have to have my thyroid removed.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. I'm naturally pretty optimistic, so I hadn't really even entertained the possibility of having a bad result. Even now I find myself distracted and unable to concentrate on what I'm doing.

I had a second opinion done last week, just to make sure that the initial diagnosis was the correct one. The second doctor concurred with the first. So I made an appointment to have the surgery. I'll be going into the hospital on April 26, staying overnight and then taking several days off from work.

The support I've had so far from my family and friends has been great, and has really helped me to get through this so far. Thanks to all of you (and you know who you are).

It's been a hell of a year for us. Starting with A.'s shoulder surgery, then R.'s surgery and now this, I'm hoping this will be it as far as major medical issues are concerned for a while.

I'll keep updating you as I have more information.

Monday, March 28, 2005

I was thinking about retired numbers today. I've always thought that the Red Sox policy on retiring numbers was too tough (the Celtics policy is too easy, but that's another entry). They only numbers they've retired in over 100 years belong to Hall of Famers: numbers 1 (Bobby Doerr), 4 (Joe Cronin), 8 (Carl Yastrzemski), 9 (Ted Williams), and 27 (Carlton Fisk), plus Jackie Robinson's number 42.

I think there is room on the right field facade for some other Red Sox greats who might not have been Hall of Famers, but were all-time Red Sox legends. Here are my four nominees:

Johnny Pesky: If anyone is "Mr. Red Sox", it would have to be Johnny Pesky. He played for the Sox for 8 years (losing 3 seasons to serve in World War II) and then filled practically every role with the team after that. Johnny is a Boston legend and has contributed as much to the Sox as anyone. Pesky will be 86 in September, and it would be nice if the Sox would do this while he's still around to enjoy it.

Jim Rice: Rice is one of the greatest players in Red Sox history. He played his entire career in Boston. Jim Ed is the Sox 3rd all-time home run hitter and continued the left field legacy he inherited from Ted Williams and Yaz. And if I had a vote, he'd be in the Hall of Fame.

Dwight Evans: He hit only three fewer home runs than Rice, and was probably the greatest defensive right fielder the Red Sox have ever had. 19 years with the Red Sox deserves that kind of recognition.

Tony Conigliaro: Tony C. is almost the cliche choice here. If he hadn't been beaned by Jack Hamilton and had otherwise remained healthy, he could have been a Hall of Famer. The fact that he's a local guy (from Lynn) helps, too.

So, come on, Red Sox. Let's add numbers 6, 14, 24 and 25 to the list of Red Sox retired numbers.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I had to take J. to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese today (which I refer to as the Seventh Level of Hell). The place is just not fun for adults, although the kids seem to love it. Which I guess is the point.

I got excited prematurely this morning. I read in today's Boston Globe that Curt Schilling would be starting the Pawsox opener this year as he continues to try to get ready to start for the Red Sox. As I do every year, I have tickets for the Pawsox opener this season. Unfortunately, when I read the article it said that Schilling would be staring the road opener in Indianapolis, not the home opener at McCoy. Too bad, because it would have been very cool to watch Schilling pitch at McCoy.

Only 8 days until the opener. Needless to say, I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Happy birthday to my wonderful daughter R., who turned 6 today!

We had a little setback on her recovery from foot surgery today. She was allowed to put weight on her foot for the first time in nearly five weeks, and she had quite a bit of pain. A. took her back to the hospital, and the surgeon's opinion was that the pin in her foot was causing the pain and that when it gets removed next week it should be better.

Not much of a birthday present for R., and it's simply adding to the already high level of stress around here. I'm praying that it really is just the pin, but I'm learning not to take anything for granted.

20-some years ago, National Public Radio did a radio adaptation of the first Star Wars movie. Of course, I listened to each episode. Immediately following Star Wars was an imported British science fiction radio show called The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Writer Douglas Adams had a brilliantly warped take on the universe, coupled with my love of his type of dry British humor made me an instant fan. Now, with the big screen Hitchhikers movie coming out, I dug out my old tapes (yes, audio casettes, really!) of the original BBC radio show and have been listening to them the last few days. They still hold up really well, and I'm enjoying "rediscovering" them. I hope the movie is a good adaptation. The fact that Adams isn't around to supervise things makes me a bit nervous.

Barry Bonds announced, in a very emotional press conference, that he probably would not be back from his second round of knee surgery until at least mid-season, and maybe not until next year. Bonds sounded very much like a man who had had enough of the constant media scrutiny and made comments about how "tired" he was and how he just wanted to get away and enjoy his son.

This is a guy who should be on top of the world and sounded like he was at the end of his rope. He already has one of the most legendary records in sports and is chasing another one. He makes more money than he can possibly spend in several lifetimes. He plays the world's greatest game for a living, and most of us would give almost anything to have a fraction of the guy's talent.

I actually think it would be good for Baseball if Bonds retired now. He's really the poster child for steroid use, and his pursuit of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron would just serve to put the whole thing front and center constantly.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

So much to talk about. Where to begin?

Foul Ball: Jim Bouton is updating his book Foul Ball to talk about the events of last summer in Pittsfield. And I'm in it! This may be just about the coolest thing to happen to me, being in a book written by the author of one of the greatest sports books of all time. It's certainly up there with Fenway Fantasy Day in 2001 and getting to meet a number of the stars of the original Star Trek back in the '80s when I was involved with conventions.

The Steroid Hearings: A Whiner Line caller on WEEI put it best when he cribbed from a Southwest Airlines commercial: "Hey Mark McGwire, wanna get away?" McGwire and the MLB leadership (Bud Sehlig and Donald Fehr, primarily) came off looking the worst from the hearings in Washington on Thursday. McGwire, especially, tarnished his legend by refusing to say under oath that he had not used steroids, even though he had made the claim in the past. Whoever it was who coached him for his appearance in front of the House committee did a really poor job, especially when you compare McGwire to Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmiero, both of whom said under oath that they had never used performance enhancing drugs. Of course, I'm assuming Palmiero was talking about athletic performance, since he was doing commercials for drugs that help him perform in, er, other areas.

It'll be interesting to see what comes of this. You have to think that MLB and the Players Union will have to consider toughening the testing policy even more. Especially when the big stick of having the game's anti-trust exemption is waved over their heads.

The Monster: Perhaps the greatest relief pitcher in Red Sox history, Dick "The Monster" Radatz, died in an accident in his home earlier this week. I was too young to see Radatz pitch, but I have certainly heard the many stories about his legendary performances for the pre-Impossible Dream Sox of the early '60's. I had much greater knowledge of The Monster as a co-host on WEEI's Big Show, where he was a funny and knowledgeable guy. Good bye, Dick. We'll miss you.

Lunch in Arkansas: I decided to cross over the Mississippi river on Tuesday afternoon while I was in Memphis to have lunch in Arkansas. I figured, when would I ever have another chance to visit Arkansas? So I went over the bridge from Memphis, drove 3 miles into Arkansas, and stopped at a truck stop to have a sandwich. One thing I learned a long time ago is that truck stops don't stay around long if they don't have good food, and that held true this time. After finishing lunch, I turned around and headed back to Memphis to finish the business I had there before flying home.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Things went well in Memphis yesterday. I appeared before a judge and actually had to get sworn in, sit on the witness stand and answer a bunch of questions from the lawyer. We then went out to my aunt's house and looked around to see what was there. The house isn't in great shape, and it's not in a great neighborhood so it'll be interesting to see what we get for it.

We also decided that we didn't need to sell the car quite so quickly, and we couldn't find the title either. I'm going to head back to the house for a bit before I go home to make sure I didn't miss anything. I need to stop at the bank first to change the account names and addresses.

I did get my barbeque yesterday, as the lawyer took me to his favorite place, Neely's. As far as I can tell, everyone in Memphis seems to have their own favorite barbeque place and defend their opinions quite strongly. Neely's was very good - I had a pulled pork sandwich with an outstanding barbeque sauce. Maybe I'll try one of the other places on another trip.

The lawyer is a baseball fan, so he took me on a little tour of Memphis including a drive by Auto Zone Park, the home of the Memphis Redbirds. They're the Cardinals AAA affliate. The ballpark looked great from the outside - kind of a mini Camden Yards with lots of brick and exposed green painted steel. It's a shame it's not baseball season, as I would have loved to have seen a game there.

My flight is at about 4:30 and I'm looking forward to getting home.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Greetings from high above the good old U.S. of A. as I wing my way to Memphis, TN, having survived our 915th snowstorm of the winter of 2004-’05 (OK, maybe it just feels that way).

My flight got going late today for the most amazing reason. Not mechanical trouble or weather or anything mundane like that. It seems that one of the passengers had decided that appropriate airplane wear was a T-shirt that said “No Bombs for Freedom.” A few passengers noticed this and pointed it out to airport security, who apparently have very little sense of humor when it comes to people wearing T-shirts referencing bombs flying on one of their airplanes.

Apparently there was a conference out in the terminal with three Massachusetts State Police officers, airport security and the captain of our airplane. The captain, in what I thought was a very cool move, decided to let the guy fly after his bags had been thoroughly searched by the police, sniffed by dogs and probably scanned with a tricorder for all I know. The captain explained all of this to us and said that the guy was just expressing his free speech rights (the shirt is a protest against bombing people to bring them freedom, a sentiment with which I generally agree, by the way). He also mentioned that the gentleman was of Middle Eastern decent, which probably didn’t help him much. He also said that the guy was really embarrassed and would abide by whatever decision the captain made. The captain also offered to let anyone who was uncomfortable with his decision get off the airplane.

In the end, the state police overruled the captain and had the guy stay behind, where he is no doubt rethinking his wardrobe. So what lessons can we learn from this?

- Don’t wear stuff that talks about bombs to airports.
- That goes double if you’re from the Middle East
- People who do are probably too dumb to fly, drive or operate heavy machinery.

I’m really unhappy to be going to Memphis. When I agreed to be the executor of my late great-aunt’s estate about 15 years ago, I wasn’t married and had no kids so life was pretty much on my own schedule. Once I started getting all that stuff, I should have told her that she would have to get someone else to do all this. Of course, now that she’s gone I feel like she was counting on me to take care of things and that I would be breaking a promise to her if I didn’t follow through with this.

So here I am in an airplane when I’d really like to be home with my family. I am going to court with my aunt’s lawyer tomorrow morning to be appointed executor, then I’m going to meet with a realtor to look into selling her house once we get all the stuff out of it (which I’m hoping to accomplish by the end of April). After that, I’m going over to the house to look things over and try to sell her car. My aunt has a ’99 Buick Century, no doubt with practically no miles on it. My plan is to take it to the Buick dealer she bought it from to see if they’ll take it from me for something vaguely resembling the Kelley Blue Book value. This is all dependent on me finding the title and being able to get everything done by the time I leave Memphis on Tuesday afternoon.

My other task is to stop by her bank to get myself put on her checking account and have the statements mailed to my house instead of hers. I’m also planning to open an account at my bank when I get home for the estate so I don’t have to deal with the Tennessee bank any longer than I have to. I’m really hoping not to have to go back to Memphis (other than on vacation) if I don’t have to.

I’m not even going to have any time on this trip for any sightseeing. I’d love to see Elvis’ home, Graceland and I’d also like to see the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum is actually housed in the hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and I can just imagine the impact of visiting that spot. The Shiloh Civil War Battlefield isn’t too far from Memphis either.

I am going to get some good Memphis barbeque, though. The national sales manager at my company, who is located in Tennessee, recommended a couple of places and one of them, a restaurant called Corky’s, is only 10 minutes from my hotel. I’ll report on the place later.

Only three weeks until Opening Night. Curt Schilling has been pessimistic about his ability to pitch the opener against Randy Johnson. He’s been slowed by the flu, plus his upcoming testimony to Congress on the steroids issue. We’ll see, but I won’t be surprised if Boomer Wells starts on April 3 instead of Schilling.

Other than the steroid issue, Spring Training this year has been pretty quiet. I’m really looking forward to the beginning of the season when the games start to count. One of the players I’m going to be following closely is Nomar. He’s got a second chance at a contract year after signing a 1-year deal with the Cubs. If he can approach something resembling his old form he should command a hefty salary, but if he continues to be injured or doesn’t play well he will have permanently damaged his market value. Guess that four-year, $15 million deal the Sox offered is looking pretty good right now, isn’t it Nomar?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

We now return to your regularly scheduled Florida trip report, already in progress...


We once again got up at 7 to head over to the Magic Kingdom. We parked our car and took the tram to the Transportation & Ticket Center. From there, we decided to take the ferry boat across the lake to the Magic Kingdom. It was once again an overcast day, although it was fairly warm.

Once again, an early arrival served us well. We walked onto a number of rides, and had short waits for most of the others. We hit pretty much every ride we wanted to do. As with MGM, here are the rides we did and short comments on each.

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin: This is a fun little ride, where you get in a car that spins around and you can shoot at various targets with big Z's on them for the evil emperor Zurg, Buzz Lightyear's arch enemy. This was the first ride we did and we walked right on. You actually get a score as you hit targets - ones that are further away give you more points. I like the fact that this one is interactive; most Disney rides just let you watch rather than participate.

Stitch's Great Escape: This ride has gotten roundly panned in the online forums, but I thought it was pretty good. Of course, this may have been a case of my expectations being so low that I wasn't expecting much. The basic story is that Stitch, the small blue alien from the movie Lilo & Stitch, is transported into a holding facility. The people in the audience are trainee guards, and are "guarding" Stitch when he escapes. The audio-animatronic Stitch is very cool, and a couple of "laser cannons" similar to those seen in the movie follow his every move. There are a couple of fun moments when Stitch escapes. J. thought it was pretty cool and didn't seem bothered that we were plunged into complete darkness a couple of times.

Space Mountain: This was the first of our visits to the Magic Kingdom's "mountain range", along with Big Thunder and Splash Mountains. Space Mountain is a pretty basic roller coaster in the dark. It's a classic (I remember riding it twice during my first trip to Disney in 1980), and not so fast that you feel sick when you get off.

Tomorrowland Indy Speedway: I never quite understood why this was in Tomorrowland, but it certainly is a big hit with the kiddie set. You ride in a small Indy style race car around a track. The big attraction is that the kids can "drive" (the car is guided by a track so that you're not all over the place). J. was really into this, although he wasn't quite tall enough to both drive and reach the gas pedal, so I was controlling the gas. This prevented us from smashing into the person in front of us when we got to the end of the track, much to J.'s disappointment.

Tomorrowland Transit Authority: We visited this later in the day. I'm not sure why, but I've always loved this ride, maybe because it's so relaxing and there is almost never a wait. You get into a small car which is powered by magnetic induction for a leisurely tour around Tomorrowland. Quiet and cool, it's a good 10 minute break from the theme park madness.

The Haunted Mansion: This was one that J. really wanted to do, so we did it after leaving Tomorrowland. Good thing, because instead of the 2 minute wait we had in the morning, there was a 40 minute wait when we walked by later in the day. Another Disney classic, you first enter the "stretching room" where a cast member explains the history of the mansion, then get into your Doom Buggy for a ride through the house. My favorite part is still the dining room with the dancing ghosts. I remember being amazed by it the first time and I'm still amazed seeing it a quarter of a century later.

Fontierland Shootin' Arcade: We saw this walking by and J. wanted to do it. For 50 cents you get to shoot a rifle at various targets in a scale model western town. If you hit the target, something lights up or moves or an animatronic animal pops up or something. J. thought it was pretty cool and ended up playing 4 times.

Checkers!: We noticed a couple of tables set up with checkers in front of the Shootin' Arcade and decided to play. I'm sure that out of the millions of people that visit the Magic Kingdom every year, we're one of the few who actually stopped to play checkers.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: A roller coaster that is themed as a runaway train and takes you around a western desert town scene. Cool theming on this one.

Splash Mountain: This was J.'s favorite ride on the trip. It's basically a flume ride, with a 5 story drop a the end. It starts out with a boat ride and views of animatronic characters from Disney's Song of the South, including a few small drops along the way. The final drop puts you into the "br'er patch", which concerned J. slightly.

Magic Carpets of Aladdin: Basically a revised version of Dumbo, except you ride a magic carpet that you can make go up and down. J. liked it, but if the line had been longer than 15 minutes I never would have waited for it.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me! This is one of the great audio-animatronic rides, as you go through pirate ships and an old-time town. Another one of my all-time favorites.

Jungle Cruise: People either seem to love or hate the Jungle Cruise. Put me in the "love" column, but it all depends upon your captain. The young lady we had combined the right levels of fun and cynicism. Some of the lame jokes date back to my first visit, including my favorite where they show you "the back of water."

Mickey's Philharmagic: Despite the name, the real star of this 3D movie is my favorite Disney character, Donald Duck. The short version of the story (without giving too much away) is that Donald misuses Mickey's magical Sorcerers Apprentice hat and ends up bouncing through different scenes from classic Disney movies. The 3D effects and the physical effects are great and the story and music are wonderful.

We had a nice lunch at Pecos Bill's, where they serve a very good hamburger and a great fixin's bar. We started to leave a little after 3:00 and got caught up in the Share a Dream Come True parade. I'm glad we did because it was fun to watch. We finally got out of the park and took the boat and the tram back to our car around 4:00 to head back to Mom & Dad's.

I had a quick turnaround after that because I was meeting some old friends at Downtown Disney for dinner. I was having dinner with the Ryans and Towaway at the House of Blues. I've known both Dave and Towaway for over 20 years. I was best man at both of their weddings and it was great to see them again. They both moved down to Florida and we arranged to hook up while I was down there.

There's nothing better than getting together with old friends, especially friends that you share so much history with. It felt like no time had passed since the last time we had been together. We talked about old times, kids, friends and what we were up to in our lives. Dinner at the House of Blues was good, and we recreated a 20 year old picture (you can see both the old and new versions at Towaway's blog).

After dinner they all joined me for a walk to the World of Disney store, where I picked up some presents for R. (so that I would be allowed to come home again). At that point we split up and I returned to the parent's house to get some much needed sleep.


We had a nice, low key day on Sunday. It was pouring rain and we all drove up to my brother's house. It was great to see everyone again. We chatted while the kids played and then we all went out to lunch at a nearby place called Gators. After lunch we headed back to my parent's house and just sort of hung out for the rest of the day. We were really too tired to do much more.


We said goodbye to my parents and headed home. Another uneventful flight back on Song and we actually got in 1/2 hour early, well ahead of the approaching snowstorm.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A little break from the Florida report. I'm off to Memphis on Sunday to take care of some legal stuff surrounding my Aunt's estate. I'm not going to have much time for sightseeing, unfortunately (no Graceland!) I have decided that I can't go all the way to Memphis without having some real barbeque. I've been surfing the Web for some ideas.

I had an unbelievable commute this morning. With the snowstorm, I expected the train would be a little late, and it was about 15 minutes late. After that, it took TWO HOURS to get into Boston! We would go for a little while, stop for a little while, go a little more, stop a little more, etc. The ride is supposed to take about 1/2 hour. I finally got into work around 10AM.

The thing that I really hate is that the T never really explains what is going on. Just tell us why we're going so slow. At least we're informed.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Florida trip report continues...


I got up at 7 so that J. and I could make it to the Disney-MGM Studios by the opening time of 9:00. My Number One Tip for seeing everything you want to see at Disney World is to get there early. You can get a lot done the first couple of hours a park is open - wait times, even for the major attractions are short, fastpasses are plentiful and the parks are more pleasant when they're not wall-to-wall people. If you're doing Disney, you're better off getting up early, going to the parks for a few hours, then returning to your hotel for the busiest part of the afternoon for a nap rather than sleeping in.

The morning was overcast and a bit drizzly, but we didn't let that stop us, and I suspected that it might keep the crowds down a bit. This was also ESPN: The Weekend, and there was a ton of sports related programing going on at the Studios all weekend long. I had a backup plan that if the park got unbearably crowded that we would hop over to Epcot or Animal Kingdom for the rest of the day.

We got there and did notice a fair amount of ESPN theming around the park. The biggest difference was a big stage set up in front of the Great Movie Ride, which was being used for player interviews by ESPN personalities during the day. There were also going to be special "sports only" games at Who Wants to be a Millionaire and an interactive play area. We spent quite a bit of time in the interactive area. J. had a good time hitting in a batting cage, doing some fly casting and playing some other games. I had a good time checking out "ESPN: The Truck" and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders who showed up to visit. During the course of the day we also saw some famous athletes, including Jerry Rice, Artis Gillmore and Mary Lou Retton, among others.

We managed to make it on quite a few attractions during the course of the day. Instead of going through them chronologically, I thought I'd just make a few comments on each ride we took.

Rock 'n' Roller Coaster: This is my new favorite ride at Disney. Great theming, great Aerosmith music and a really cool ride. It's a roller coaster that's in the dark. You go through a couple of inversions, but you can't really tell because it's dark. The ride is very smooth and we both really enjoyed it, although J. just barely made the height requirement.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror: Another great ride. I'm a big fan of the original Twilight Zone TV show, so I love the theming here, too. The most publicized part of the ride is the multiple drops in the "elevator" (and you can actually feel yourself lift off the seat - the car is pushed down at a speed greater than gravity so you are actually weightless for a couple of seconds), but I just love the look of the place and the whole backstory that goes along with the ride.

Star Tours: Off to a galaxy far, far away. Maybe my best "suspension of disbelief" ride, as I can actually allow myself to believe for a few seconds that I'm rocketing around in a Star Wars spaceship. It may be a bit dated, but there are tons of little touches that I really enjoy. The full-sized AT-AT standing outside the entrance is just too cool. Good gift shop, too. J. picked up a lightsabre as his souvenir from the trip.

The Great Movie Ride: I'm a big movie buff, so I always enjoy this one. It's a tour through great moments in movie history and includes audio-animatronic scenes from movies like Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, Singin' in the Rain, Raiders of the Lost Ark and others. J. was a bit freaked out by the Alien section, especially when the "steam" started blasting at us from the ceiling.

The Magic of Disney Animation: This is an interesting show with a live narrator and the animated character Mushu from the movie Mulan (voiced by Eddie Murphy). It explains how an animated character evolves from the writer's first ideas for the character to what you see in the final film. After the show we then got to meet Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and Frozone from The Incredibles, which was a big hit with J. They also had some interactive voice and art stations that we played around with for a bit.

Disney-MGM Studios Backlot Tour: A nice behind the scenes look at how movies are made and a tram ride that takes you through Catastrophe Canyon, where you are subjected to floods, fire, explosions and an earthquake all at once! I like going through the "boneyard" on this tour, where old movie vehicles are stored and the big prop storage room. I noticed familiar props from a number of movies, including the rocket pack and helmet from The Rocketeer.

Walt Disney: One Man's Dream: J. was too impatient to hang with this for long, but I could have easily stayed a lot longer. It's basically a Walt Disney museum, with lots of exhibits arranged in a timeline and cool stuff to look at. There's also a movie, which we didn't watch, but I'd like to see it someday.

We also stopped in to see Mickey Mouse. I had bought a get well card for R. that I wanted to get some characters to sign, so we got Mickey (who signed it "Your Pal") and the Incredibles to sign.

Lunch was a hoot. We went to the '50s Prime Time Cafe, which is themed to look like a 1950's suburban kitchen. The theme even carries on to the staff. When your table is ready they call for the "Smith Kids". The wait staff play either mom or an aunt or uncle. They make you set the table, admonish you for bad manners and make you eat your vegetables, or no dessert. We didn't have dessert, but the dessert menu comes on a Viewmaster. The food was decent. I had a turkey sandwich and J. had chicken nuggets and both were pretty good.

One of the best memories of the trip came from our meal. J. put his elbows on the table and our "mom" told him not to do that. He asked me why, and I explained that it was rude, but it wasn't really a rule we enforced. Later on, I put my elbows on the table, and J. reminded me, but the waitress wasn't around. So when she came back J. tattled on me! "Mom" said, "Shame on you, Dad." and J. had a huge grin on his face. He still smiles whenever I tell the story.

Around 3:00, J. was starting to run out of steam so we headed home. We had pretty much seen everything we wanted (the Indiana Jones show was the only thing we decided to skip; I would have liked to have seen the Muppets 3D show, but J. wasn't interested.) We went back to the car and headed back to Mom & Dad's house.

They had someplace to go that evening, so I took J. to Wendy's for dinner. I was reminded by how slow fast food restaurants are in the south. I think the Wendy's on Boylston St. in Boston could have served about 100 people in the time it took this one to serve 5. After dinner, we went home and got to bed. Our original plan was to go to my brother's house on Saturday and do the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, but torrential rain was predicted for Sunday so we switched the days.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

On top of everthing else, I came down with a stomach bug which pretty much laid me low for the last couple of days. I'm feeling better now, which means it's finally time to start the long awaited...

...Florida Trip Report!


I got up bright and early (5 AM) so that J. and I could catch an 8:30 flight out of Logan. This was the first time I had flown from Logan since I came home from Korea with R. It was also the first time we had flown Song Airlines. We tend to favor Southwest Airlines out of Green Aiport in Providence, but on this occassion I was able to get a significantly cheaper fare on Song.

We left the house slightly after 6 (to a slightly teary R.) and flew down the Mass Pike and through the Ted Williams Tunnel to get to Logan in near record time. The road system at Logan is a lot different that the last time I was there. It's much easier to follow than it used to be. It's good to see my tax dollars are being put to good use for a change.

We parked the car at Central Parking and then went to check in. We went to the self-service kiosk, checked our bag and went through security to our gate.

We boarded the plane and took off. One nice thing about Song is that they have television screens built into the back of each seat. We were able to watch 24 DirectTV channels, plus flight information (you could actually see where the plane was during the flight) and a play a trivia game against other passengers. They also had pay-per-view movies and games you could pay $5 each for.

The service wasn't bad, although it wasn't quite as polished as Southwest. Once nice thing was that they had a menu with a variety of snacks and meals you could buy. J. and I split a fruit and cheese snack that was very good. We also got complimentary (non-alcoholic) drinks.

We landed at Orlando International basically on time and went off to the luggage claim to get our bag and meet my mother, who was driving us to her house. Dad had a softball game and met us at the house later.

We arrived at my parents house and had some lunch. J. was getting a bit restless, so we went over to a nearby field and tossed the baseball around. J. did pretty well considering that we hadn't played catch since our last trip to Florida in December. As we were getting ready to leave my phone rang with The Hey informing me of the Antoine Walker trade.

We took it easy the rest of the day, since we had another early morning the next day. I wanted to be at Disney-MGM Studios at the 9:00 opening the next morning.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Some sad news today. My great aunt passed away. She had been very ill and was headed for a nursing home. She really didn't want to end up in a nursing home, so in some ways this was for the best.

A number of years ago I agreed to be the executor of her estate, so I'm going to have to go down to Memphis for a couple of days to take care of some legal stuff.

Been a busy night. I'll try to start in on the Florida trip tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

We're back from a fun trip to Florida. Lots to say about that, but first a couple of comments on some other stuff that's been happening.

We had R.'s first post-op appointment today, and it went pretty well. The doctor said that everything looked like it was supposed to and she can walk in the cast in three weeks. I had to leave the room when they changed the cast. I was OK with the stitches, but I was having a tough time dealing with the pin sticking out of her foot. She's healing properly, though, and that's the important thing.

The surprise of the week was certainly the return of Antoine Walker to the Celtics. I found out about the trade on a baseball field in Florida. J. and I had gone to a nearby field to play catch and my phone rang. My friend The Hey was on the line, telling me about the trade. Given that Danny Ainge had said that Antoine's game was not a good fit for his vision of the Celtics, his return was a huge surprise. The Celtics won their first two games after Antoine's return, and people are more excited about the Celtics than I've seen them since they made the Eastern Conference finals a few years back.

I'll start in on the Florida trip report tomorrow...

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